From the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Wall of China to Connaught Place in New Delhi, lakhs of people across the world and various time zones rolled out their mats to celebrate the third International Yoga Day on Wednesday. The celebrations of the UN International Yoga Day, that is celebrated every year on June 21, was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath performed various yoga asanas at Ramabai rally ground in Lucknow.
To observe the day, yoga camps were held at offices, schools, and parks all over the country. The main celebrations of the day began in Lucknow where the prime minister joined over 51,000 people at the Ramabai Maidan ground. Even though rains early morning tried to dampen the spirit of yoga enthusiasts in Lucknow and Delhi, people braved it all to take part in the celebrations.
Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Vijay Goel, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi also took part in the celebrations.
In Delhi, yoga sessions were held at Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, Talkatora Garden, Children’s Park at India Gate and many other old municipal parks. The streets of Connaught Place’s Inner Circle also bore a festive look as both old and young, dressed in colourful attire, performed various asanas. According to a report in PTI, the AYUSH Ministry officials estimated that the maximum gathering of 50,000 people was at the Red Fort lawns, followed by 10,000 yoga enthusiasts coming together in Connaught Place and about 9,000 at a DDA park in Rohini.
To mark the event, PM Modi spoke about the importance of the ancient practice of yoga in connecting India with the world and promoting wellness. He said, “Many countries which do not know our language, tradition or culture are now connecting to India through yoga. The practice, which connects body, mind and soul, has played a big role in binding the world too.”
“Today, Yoga has become a part of so many lives. Yoga’s popularity outside India is high and has connected the world with India,” the prime minister tweeted. Stressing on the importance of yoga, PM Modi said it has the power of health insurance at zero cost. “We can save the people from many problems if 1.25 billion countrymen achieve this through healthy body, mind and intelligence. The specialty of yoga is keeping the mind stable… it teaches the art of living with a healthy mind amidst the ups and downs of life,” said Modi.
In Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city, nearly 3 lakh people turned up together at the GMDC ground to set a new world record. The GMDC ground yoga event was led by Yoga guru Ramdev, who made the participants stretch their muscles and perform various yoga postures. BJP president Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, several other political leaders, IPS and IAS officers, high court judges and dignitaries were also present at the venue.
Claiming the event to be a world record, Ramdev said, “Today is the most important day for me, as more than three lakh people performed yoga at one place to set a new world record. We have broken the previous world record, which was set in the presence of our PM, by a huge margin.”
According to the yoga guru, officials of the Guinness World Records book were also present at the event and that they will declare the final figure of the participants after tabulating the data based on the bar code tag given to each person at the entry gates.
The yoga day was also celebrated by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard personnel on the deck of INS Viraat in Mumbai’s Naval Dock Yard. The yoga camp was organised by personnel of the Western Naval Command in Mumbai. According to a defence spokesperson, “Western Naval Command has always encouraged its officers and men to pursue and excel in sports, adventure and physical fitness. Similar ‘yog shivir’ were conducted by various units of the Army and the Air Force. Lieutenant General Vishwambhar Singh, General Officer Commanding Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area also participated with the officers and troops at the Colaba Military Station.”
Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command and Rear Admiral RB Pandit, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet joined the personnel in performing yoga on the deck of the aircraft carrier Viraat.
According to a Coast Guard release, the International Yoga day was celebrated by Coast Guard officers and sailors in Mumbai and other cities on the West coast of India. “Coast Guard officers, sailors and their families participated in a one-day Workshop on Yoga conducted at Coast Guard Regional Headquarters, Worli,” the release said.
In Himachal Pradesh, the yoga day celebrations were observed at the courtyard of the erstwhile Katoch dynasty rulers at Sujanpurtira in Hamirpur district. The function was presided over by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Society. Sri Sri was also accompanied by Union Minister Smriti Irani and former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. On the occasion, Sri Sri addressed the people saying yoga can transform the human mind and body.
He also praised PM Modi for his efforts to get June 21 declared as the International Yoga Day by the United Nations in 2014.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) took out a bicycle rally with over one lakh party workers to mark the international event. SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said, “Over one lakh party workers rode bicycles in their respective areas across the state. They later performed yoga at home as per their convenience.”
Inaugurating the state-level observance of International Yoga Day at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that yoga was not a part of any religion and it should be practiced with a free and secular mindset. He also added, yoga should be seen as a set of exercises that can be practiced by anyone and that a comprehensive programme to teach yoga would be drawn up soon in state schools.
The northeastern states of the country too didn’t leave any stone unturned to celebrate the yoga day celebrations. Thousands of school children, union ministers, NCC cadets, state ministers, personnel of paramilitary forces and many others participated in yoga camps spread across the entire region.
On the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced that he would extend facilities for yoga to all school children, panchayat offices, tea gardens and interior char areas to maintain overall good health across the state.
The Border Security Force (BSF), that guards Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh and the personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at their various posts along the China border, including at a high-altitude location in Ladakh and at a border post at the height of 14,000-feet in Arunachal Pradesh, also undertook early morning yoga sessions to mark the third anniversary of the event.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), troops of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) guards too joined in various yoga sessions.